13
Dec

Player Research Games of the Year 2015

It is games of the year time again, and once again the Player Research staff is sharing the games that they have enjoyed playing the most this year. There are more of us this year, but still not enough to be statistically meaningful. So we are not tallying up votes, but as with last year simply presenting each Player Research staff members personal and subjective picks in their own words [Editor: And my commentary]. Her Story

Alistair

Game 1: Her story

Great game, great new idea for interactions, interesting story, and something that could be shared with my girlfriend.

Game 2: Broforce

Fun, silly MP action, easy to pick up, easy to play, easy to stop playing. Able to be played couch co-op or online. Lots of laughter.

Game 3: Fallout 4

The game I’ve been waiting so long to play. Only put a few hours into it so far, but will put in so many more before the year’s out. On course to be my most played game of 2015.

Game 4: Blackwell Deception

A really well put together adventure game. Again, great story, great assistance when you get stuck – a perennial issue for me and adventure games.

Game 5: Helldivers

A late entry. Again for the amount of laughter generated in the office when it’s on. We’ve had to ban it during a playtest day to stop playtest participants becoming distracted by the shouts of dismay/horror/amusement/shock… all the emotions experienced. [Editors Note: Off to a good start! All 2015 games!]

 

Loader Bot!

Ben

Game 1: Tales from the Borderlands

Tales from the Borderlands is the funniest game I played this year [Editors Note: Yes, I know some of it came out last year, but most of it was this year]. It tells a charming story filled with lovely moments of character and hilarity. The final boss fight was a highlight for me, but there were many others.

Game 2: Bloodborne

A deeply consistent game, Bloodborne lays out its rules and expects you to follow them. An enjoyable and bloody path down which my retired soldier, and proud grandmother, trod with her trusty axe and cannon.

Game 3: Life is Strange

In some ways it is… strange… that I enjoyed Life is Strange so much. It is inconsistent at times and the writing of teen girls comes off super, like, whatevas. But it has heart and tells a story worth seeing through.

Game 4: Halo 5: Guardians

The release of a new Halo game will always get my attention and playing through Halo 5 with my friends has once again shown why Halo is one of the best console shooters available. I suspect that the only reason that Halo 5 is in 4th place is we were playing on Legendary with three players and an AI, and the AI is just not up to the task. Four players may have been totally different.

Game 5: Crypt of the Necrodancer

I haven’t played as much Crypt of the Necrodancer as I would have liked. But how it executes on its core mechanics and concepts is so well done that it was impossible for me to not mention it in my top five games of this year.

Notable Mentions: Dota 2 Reborn and Destiny the Taken King have both continued to be excellent games. I almost put The Taken King as my number one game, but as I am the organiser for The Games of the Year I didn’t want to set a bad example [Editor's Note: Even if this was in vain, it is the principle of the thing!]. 2015 has been a great year for games, so there are many others I could mention. But I will hold back and let the others do their talking.

 

Metal Gear Bob

Bob

Game 1: Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

By far the best gameplay in the series, and some of the best moment to moment 3rd person gameplay I’ve ever experienced. Expertly interwoven systems and an apeshit bonkers storyline.

Game 2: The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

Incredible game, incredible world. I had a transcendental moment walking through the woodland Northeast of Blackbough with quiet birdsong and dappled sunlight wafting through the trees. Then a cannibal picked a fight with me and I chopped him in half. Diagonally. Think about that.

Game 3: Fallout 4

At the time of writing I’m *only* about 30 hours in, and greatly enjoying it in spite of the outrageous UI. I love it and I’ll play a whole lot more of it, but as Ben argues, it is simply more Fallout. That’s not a bad thing though.

Game 4: Game of Thrones

A Telltale Games Series All but one of the episodes came out in 2015, so I’m counting this as a 2015 game [Editor: Yup, no problem]. A great story with interesting characters, and terrifyingly tense decisions that must be made in seconds. It feels like GoT, despite featuring only a handful of the TV show’s cast. This more than scratches the itch as I wait for Season 6, and you get a platinum trophy just for completing it.

Game 5: Rocket League

I’ve seldom had as much fun while feeling so massively incompetent at a game. Things get a bit sweary when this is on [Editor: Oh heavens, no...]. It’s also one of the only games I play with my wife, who becomes similarly frustrated.

 

Metal Gear Deb

Deborah

Here we are, it’s the end of the year and I have no 2015 game to put on my list. Sure, I enjoyed playing Hearthstone on the go on my iPhone [Editor: Technically a 2015 release on phone] and feeding the cats in the middle of the night in Neko Atsume [Editor: A 2014 game], but between the decision to replay the whole MGS series, Ni no Kuni, the endless Hearthstone sessions on iPad, and catching up on 2014 games, let’s face it, I didn’t play any “worth to put on my list” game from this year!

So here is my list of games I wish I had the time to play in 2015:

Game 1: Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

After replaying the early titles of the series I am so curious to see how Kojima managed the transition from scripted, story driven games to a more modern Open World configuration.

Game 2: Assassin’s Creed Syndicate

Despite the many flaws of the series, I still need my annual dose [Editor: Well you only have a few more weeks to get it...] of climbing and sneaky kills in back alleys

Game 3: Batman Arkham Knight

Well I mean we’re talking about embodying Batman, flying (and driving! [Editor: Let's hear back to see if driving gets a "!" once you have played the game]) around Gotham city and fighting against all the villains that gave me nightmares when I was a kid!

Game 4: Life is strange

Puzzle solving, conversational choices, graphic adventure, thematic episodes, why wouldn’t you want to try that?!

Game 5: The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D

Nobody needs a reason to play Majora’s Mask again ;)

Honourable mentions – 2015 games: 

Neko Atsume for the 2 months I spent checking every 10 minutes if I had managed to catch a new cat. Gotta catch’Em All! [Editors Note: Not a 2015 game, even if it was localised in 2015 we all know you were playing it in Japanese first] Broforce for the crazy fun and upsetting lunch games sessions with the Player Research team”

Helldiver Graham

Graham

Game 1: Helldivers

This game changed me. I’m a huge twin-stick shooter fan, so hearing that Helldivers was in this genre and seeing a few screenshots was enough to make the purchase. I didn’t read the text of any reviews, but I did look at the overall score to see if it was a decent twin-stick shooter or not. I’m also not interested in multiplayer games. Local co-op yes, but online with strangers, pass. Imagine my surprise then when realising that the Helldiver dropping into the game was a real player. And you know what, it improved the experience. I love the feeling of crossing into new territory, the space where there’s elements of the familiar mixed with something new, especially if it’s somewhere where you didn’t think you wanted to go.

Game 2: TIS-100

What, a game about assembly language programming? It’s as if someone made a game just for me. In reality it’s a puzzle game that anyone could learn to play, but coders are especially likely to love it. This shouldn’t exist, but it makes me so happy that it does.

Game 3: Need For Speed: No Limits

This is the first car game on mobile that felt like a console game. The races may only be around 45 seconds long, but they gave me the same feelings of excitement that I would normally only get on console racing games. Great meta-game too, there’s a decent selection of cars and there’s always something to do.

Game 4: MGS V

There’s no Far Cry this year, but this could fill the void. Well, it did for a while, then it wore off. Yes, fultoning is fun, but the world isn’t especially beautiful nor is it as alive or interesting as Far Cry’s. Some day I’ll work out what the story is about, but it won’t be this year.

Game 5: Hacknet

Can a terminal simulator really be a game? If you’ve ever aspired to know what it’s like to be in elite hacker group Anonymous, then this could be for you. Using real Unix commands, you can SSH And scp your way to black hat wizardry. Other colours are available.

 

h-takenking

Harvey

Game 1: Destiny: The Taken King

Although technically an expansion, [Editors Note: Yes...] it made so many improvements to the vanilla Destiny experience it should be considered it’s own game. It brought a huge number of new elements that hooked me back into the game. The gunplay is as good as ever, with even more guns and abilities at your disposal to blast through the new story and generous number of new strikes and missions. It still has me coming back regularly to collect a few bounties, complete a couple of strikes or just pick up a new gun or two.

Game 2: The Witcher 3

A really close second to Destiny, the Witcher 3 is one of the most beautiful open worlds I’ve explored in a game, with outstanding combat as well as some deep and intriguing plot lines. And, of course, a generous handful of head-chopping-off.

Game 3: Everybody’s Gone To The Rapture

A game that I found genuinely interesting and nothing like any other I’ve played. With very minimal gameplay but a story that is at the same time tragic and really unsettling. The setting looks absolutely incredible, from the tiny details to the surroundings as a whole. Plus, who doesn’t like a game about wandering around a village in Shropshire?

Game 4: Rocket League

This one makes the list purely for the multiplayer entertainment value. Many nights were taken up in my house playing this with friends, usually very badly. Four player split-screen is chaotic, frantic and friendship-ruining in all the right ways.

Game 5: Helldivers

Speaking of friendship-ruining… Helldivers’ is a new discovery for me but catapulted onto this list because of the amount of fun I had playing it here in the office. The friendly-fire damage is very much on, so keep an eye out for your teammates! And if they shoot you ‘accidentally’, you can always try and hit them back with an airstrike…accidentally of course.

 

Sebout Boy

Seb

After last year’s easy GOTY list, 2015 has been much less interesting for me. So many of the top releases this year have been time-sink sprawling epics I just couldn’t dedicate quality time to (here’s looking at you, Witcher 3, Bloodborne and Metal Gear…) that the draw of play-anywhere bite-sized and guilt-free gaming from DOTA and Hearthstone was just altogether more useful. In suffering disappointments with The Order: 1886, Watch Dogs, LittleBigPlanet 3 and Ground Zeroes, my console gaming time had a real sour note all year long, and the PS4 spent most of the year boxed up in disgust (and for moving house).

Game 1: Fallout 4

The console game I didn’t-enjoy-the-least this year. Yes, the world is quite interesting, and, yes, ‘Power Armor feels pretty cool, huh?’. I’m starting to wonder if I’m having any fun at all in Fallout 4. Everything is just going through the motions with no real soul; the factions are all predictable and shallow, the characters fickle and dull. And the interface is so intolerably awful that the incredible high-points (first seeing the Prydwen float overhead – amazing-  trudging through the Glowing Sea – brilliant) are overwhelmed by the uncountable niggles [Editors Note: Wow, should that thumb be upside down?]

Game 2: Hearthstone

Typically late to the party here [Editors Note: Yes, it is a 2014 game], I’ve finally given Hearthstone a proper go, and it is great. What a shock, eh? It really has set a new high-bar for polish and quality on mobile platforms. A new tentpole game that, I hope, will continue to highlight the importance of focusing on visual polish, clarity and moment-to-moment understandability. Tuesdays’ Tavern Brawls are becoming a highlight of my week.

Game 3: AUX B

“A game about connecting audio leads together… You have to be KIDDING!?”. Actually, no. A simple and reliable puzzler that held my attention for much longer than anticipated – it isn’t hard, nor is it particularly unique, nor beautiful, but I like it.

Game 4: You Must Build a Boat

It was refreshing to explore a non-freemium match 3 experience, and YMBAB has a lot to like. I still struggled with tile recognition even hours into the game – and I found the mechanics ranged in their understandability and contribution to the whole game experience, but I ploughed through nonetheless. Looking forward to a more polished and visually interesting title that learns from YMBAB’s successes, and addresses the many flaws.

Game 5: Tearaway Unfolded

I loved 2013’s Tearaway, and Unfolded is a welcome return to the papercraft-y world. Despite a shaky start and perhaps less-interesting platforming early on, Unfolded excels in perhaps unexpected areas: second screen connectivity in using the Playstation App, bringing the players’ world into the game, and interesting use of the Dualshock 4. I can’t say that I enjoy the world or narration as much as Tearaway on VITA, but it is still a step in the right direction for delightful and playful interactions.

 

Dandy Ugo

Ugo

Game 1: The Witcher 3

This is unquestionably 2015’s best game [Editors Note: I question that]. And probably one of the best game ever. The world is huge, and for once, it’s meaningful, more alive than ever, windy, dirty, muddy, scary. Yes, you can’t talk to everyone and most NPC’s will just loop the few sentences they have, but it’s probably the most alive open-world I’ve ever seen. Each bandit encounter at the corner of a country road is meaningful, each slain monster is a reflection on the inner monstrosity in each of us (yes, it is!), each lost Gwent game hurts like a bitch. Geralt is great, grumpy, badass and sexy as always, and most of all, there’s a real-time beard-growing feature. What else could be more awesome than that?

Game 2: Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

This is unquestionably 2015’s best game… Wait. Ok, it’s *probably* (my) 2015’s most anticipated game, and despite all its flaws, I’m 101h in and I’m still loving it. It couldn’t beat the Butcher of Blaviken though, due to a chaotic story, and repetitive chapter 2. Am I the only one missing 35 minutes long cut scenes? Is it really better to manually pick and listen to tapes on my walkman whilst roaming the arid lands of Afghanistan? But still, what an awesome, almost limitless gameplay! What a great game and level designs. What a badass (if silent) hero… What a great 80’s soundtrack.

Game 3: Rocket League

I probably played much more Rocket League than I should have, and I’m still terrible at it. But it’s my number 1 pick-up-to-play-5-minutes-but-still-playing-after-40-minutes game of the year.

Game 4: Olli Olli 2: Welcome to Olliwood

It’s my number 2 game of the aforementioned pick-up-to-play-5-minutes-but-still-playing-after-40-minutes type. Skate or Die. Or in my case, Skate *and* Die. A lot.

Game 5: Broforce

Bro-est game ever. Bro Force gathered all my childhood heroes in one game, gave them cool weapons and crazy abilities, an awesome bro-y co-op mode, and blood. A lot of blood. Broheart, Brobocop and Indiana Brones are of course my favourite bros.

Honourable mention: Neko Atsume [Editors Note: A 2014 game], because, well,  awesome cute cats. It’s also the first game to be so addictive that it actually forced me into learning Japanese. Domo arigato.